Pros and Cons of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Sep 26, 2023 | Pain Management

Back pain is … terrible. It can be a debilitating condition that prevents you from experiencing a good quality of life. Chronic back pain can limit your mobility, interfere with your work, and affect your mental health — even eating, sitting, and sleeping can be excruciating.

Patients go to great lengths to find relief after suffering the effects of chronic back pain for months or even years. One increasingly popular pain solution is steroid injections. But are they the right solution for everyone? Let’s explore the pros and cons of steroid injections for back pain.

What Are Steroid Injections?

Steroid injections, also known as corticosteroid injections, are strong anti-inflammatory medications that are injected via syringe directly into a specific area of the body affected by pain. The medication reduces inflammation, which can help to alleviate pain.

Understanding Back Pain

Back pain is a common condition that affects people of all ages. It can result from various causes such as poor posture, lifting heavy objects, aging, or due to an underlying condition like arthritis or herniated disc. 

The impact of back pain on daily life varies from person to person. For some, it’s a minor annoyance while for others it can be so severe that it prevents them from performing basic, everyday activities.

The Pros and Cons of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Steroid injections are often used when oral medications or physical therapy have not provided adequate relief. The medication is delivered directly to the site of inflammation which can provide significant relief from pain.

Who would be a good candidate for steroid injections? They’re often recommended for people who have been suffering from consistent back pain for at least three months (chronic pain) and have not found relief from other treatments.

Let’s take a more detailed look at the pros and cons of steroid injections for back pain.

Pros of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Steroid injections offer several benefits:

  • Quick relief of pain — Many patients experience significant relief from pain within a few days of receiving the injection.
  • Non-surgical intervention — Steroid injections are a minimally invasive procedure that can be preferable to surgery for many patients.
  • Direct delivery to the inflammation site — The medication is delivered directly to the site of inflammation which can provide more noticeable relief.
  • Possible long-term pain relief — Though results vary, some patients may experience long-term pain relief from a single injection.

Cons of Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Despite their benefits, steroid injections may have potential downsides for some patients:

  • Possible side effects — Like any treatment, steroid injections carry the risk of side effects. These include infection, allergic reactions, and nerve damage.
  • Temporary pain relief — While some patients experience long-term relief, others may find that the relief is only temporary.
  • Not a cure — Steroid injections address symptoms but do not cure the underlying cause of back pain.
  • Possible complications with repeated injections — Over time, repeated injections may lead to weakening of the bones (osteoporosis) or muscles.

Alternatives to Steroid Injections

If you’re considering steroid injections but are concerned about the potential risks or disadvantages, there are alternatives available which you should talk with your doctor about:

  • Physical therapy — A physical therapist can guide you through exercises designed to strengthen your back and alleviate your pain.
  • Pain medication — Over-the-counter or prescription medications can help manage your pain.
  • Lifestyle changes — Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a balanced diet can all help reduce back pain.
  • Surgery — If your back pain is severe or caused by an underlying condition like a herniated disc, surgery may be considered as a last resort.

Get Steroid Injections and Other Treatments at HPM

At HPM, we offer a range of advanced treatments for back pain including corticosteroid injections. Our clinics are staffed by medical professionals with specialized training in pain management. We operate pain management clinics in rural communities across the U.S., bringing top-tier care closer to home for our patients.

Our specialists will review the pros and cons of steroid injections for back pain with you before deciding if the treatment is right for you and your condition. 

Remember, each patient’s case is unique — what works best will depend on the individual’s condition, pain severity, pain tolerance, and other variables. Whether you’re considering steroid injections or exploring other options, our team at HPM is here to help guide you toward the best possible outcome.
Back pain does not have to dominate your life. Be proactive in seeking help and don’t let back pain hold you back from living your life to the fullest. Click here to find an HPM location near you.